“We write out of concern for those in your congregations who are suffering loss of their homes, their jobs, their ability to meet other financial obligations or conduct their normal business activities,” said a letter presented to the General Assembly Council on Oct. 3. “Indeed, we recognize that even for those who may not be in immediate jeopardy, the current `credit crisis’ has spread fear throughout the nation regarding the stability of our whole economic system.”
The letter is being sent by Bruce Reyes-Chow, moderator of the 218th General Assembly; Linda Valentine, executive director of the General Assembly Council; and Gradye Parsons, stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
It also states that “as followers of Jesus Christ, let us join in a call to our own people and to our fearful nation to hear God’s word that `perfect love casts out fear;’” and encourages Presbyterians to “repent of our own decisions, both personal and corporate, regarding our use of the earth’s resources and of the financial resources of which we have been made stewards.”
The letter refers Presbyterians to resources — including the “From Homelessness to Hope” report approved by the 2008 General Assembly and a 2006 report on
“A Reformed Understanding of Usury.”
Also, Sara Lisherness, director of the PC(USA)’s Compassion, Peace, and Justice ministry, has sent a letter to members of Congress urging them “to find a solution that will move our economy closer to a vision of a just economy, where human worth and the common good are valued above economic self-interest, personal wealth and greed.”
The General Assembly Council has been meeting in Snowbird, Utah Sept. 30-Oct. 3, the first meeting of the slimmed-down council, which has been reduced over time from 71 members to 40. About half attending this gathering were brand-new to the council.
Here’s some more of what was discussed.
Economy. On Oct. 2, Robert Leech, chief executive officer of the Presbyterian Foundation, explained a little of his agency’s work as the investment arm of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). And Leech said he figured the crowd might expect him to say something about the economy.
“Don’t turn on the TV or read the paper for the next year, and things will probably be fine,” Leech said. He said he’s been in the banking and investment business for 40 years, and “this too shall pass.”
He also said the Foundation is well-capitalized and its investments well-diversified.
Middle East. About a month ago Carol Adcock, chair of the council, and a group of Presbyterian leaders traveled to the Middle East. With a packed schedule, “we ran where Jesus walked,” Adcock said.
Among those they met with were Iraqi Christians who were then in Jordan. “They didn’t want their names used, they didn’t want their towns mentioned,” said Tom Taylor, the PC(USA)’s deputy executive director for mission. One, a doctor, said his father had been kidnapped and murdered, his body dumped in the street.
Another man showed photos of his church, which has survived in “very, very difficult circumstances,” Taylor said.
Adcock said the group shared a lovely meal with the Iraqi Christians, one family of whom was preparing to go back to Iraq soon after that. They live “in such a state of unknowns,” she said, her eyes brimming with tears, “with such love and literally living each day as a treasure.”